Sharing the gift of reading on St. Joseph’s Bookmobile

My name is Odis, and I am a houseparent for fourth to sixth grade

Odis, St. Joseph's Houseparent
Odis, St. Joseph’s Houseparent

boys at St Joseph’s Indian School. This summer I am working on St. Joseph’s bookmobile for the third time. We have spent two weeks traveling to Indian reservations around South Dakota delivering books in our bookmobile for children and adults. This year I am working with a Seth, a volunteer from Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Sometimes working the bookmobile you have time to set up your table before the kids get to the van and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, kids are lined up waiting for us!

You need all kinds of skills on the bookmobile, including bike mechanics!
In Parmelee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Seth did some impromptu bike repair for a boy.

And it’s not as simple as just letting kids choose a book. You have to have all kinds of skills, like working on the children’s bikes while they are looking for a Captain Underpants book. This happened to us in Parmelee when Seth had to do some impromptu bike repair for a boy. I was happy Seth was good at that kind of thing.

He was also good at making peace with the local dogs in the

communities we visited. We brought along some dog treats, which just lasted a couple stops as the kids started passing them out to the dogs as well.

Each summer, St. Joseph’s bookmobile travels to reservation communities in South Dakota.
St. Joseph’s bookmobile visits communities on South Dakota reservations.

The most popular author with the men who come looking for something to read is Louis L’Amour. They really enjoy any western. We were grateful to have grandmothers pick up books for grandkids. We could really tell by the amount of time a parent or guardian looked for that “perfect book” how well they knew their child’s reading habits.

Thank you to all the donors who send books each year! I want you to know we treat your gently used books with care. There are many people on the reservations here in

 Lakota (Sioux) children choose books to take home.
Thank you for sharing your gently used books!

South Dakota who love your books and do not have access to a bookstore or library, so the books you so generously send are much appreciated. Thank you!

God bless,


An annual hike with the boys in the Cyr Home

Hi, my name is Odis. My houseparent partner Theresa and I work in the Cyr Home at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota.

Odis, St. Joseph's Houseparent
Odis, St. Joseph’s Houseparent

We have 11 boys in grades 4-6 in the home, and I want to share with you how we keep the boys active in both body and mind.

One of our mottos at Cyr Home is “work hard, play hard.” On the work side of the equation, cold and snowy Friday afternoons are a great time to cut and sort Box Tops for Education and Campbell’s soup labels after school. We use labels and box tops to

Every year, houseparents Odis and Theresa take the Cyr Home boys to Farm Island for a hike.
The Cyr Home boys and houseparent Theresa on their 2015 Farm Island hike.

buy fun, extra things for the home, like i-Pads and other electronics, which are great to have around on long, cold winter days. The boys usually don’t get to play video games on school days, but on those days when the weather is too bad to go outside, we fire up the Xbox 360, and they use the Kinect to play games that are interactive such as dancing, bowling and baseball games.

A couple of weekends ago, we took a trip to Pierre to do our annual hike on Farm Island, which is around six-and-one-half miles round trip. We take a picture on the same log every year. As you can

Farm Island sits in the Missouri River near Pierre, South Dakota.
The Cyr Home boys on their 2014 Farm Island hike.

see, the log and the boys are getting older and older. I don’t know how many more years our picture log will last…

The island we hike on once had a Civilian Conservation Corps camp operating on it in the 1930’s and was the only one open in South Dakota for the full nine years of the program. Afterwards, it was home to a golf course and children’s camps, among other things. Needless to say, the overgrown island is now home to a lot of ruins and trails that the boys enjoy exploring.

The whole round trip got us very hungry, so we went to the Wonderful House of Jell-O a.k.a. The Chinese Buffet. We call it the Wonderful House of Jell-O because there are always a few boys who have never eaten at a Chinese restaurant and end up with nothing but Jell-O on their plates. The

Each year on their hike, the boys stop at the same tree for a picture.
The Cyr Home boys on their 2013 Farm Island hike.

joke in our home is that the buffet has the world’s best Jell-O because that is all some boys want to eat. The boys were more daring this year, however, and not one of them got Jell-O until they went for seconds.

We want all our readers and donors to know we appreciate your good thoughts and support. The boys at Cyr Home always have you on their minds and in our nightly prayers. Theresa and I thank you for your support of our work with the Cyr Home boys and St. Joseph’s.




As we get ready for Christmas break at St. Joseph’s Indian School

My name is Odis and I am a houseparent for boys in grades 4-6. I work in the Cyr Home at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

Odis works with Lakota boys in grades 4-6.
Odis, Cyr Home houseparent

As we prepare to send the boys home for the holidays (and they are excited about their break) I am getting introspective about what we have done so far this year. I thought I would write you a short letter about one of our favorites – the South Dakota State Fair trip!

Of course, the highlight of the fair was the midway – the boys spent hours on the rides! The Ring of Fire and the Octopus seemed to be the favorites. But before the rides, the boys had some other places to check out.

The Lakota boys loved the farm equipment!
After visiting the Goat Barn, dreams of becoming a farmer were cemented by sitting in the tractors!

They visited the Dairy Barn, Rabbit and Bird Barns and the very popular Goat Barn. We all went to the Goat Barn as a home to see and play with the young goats that are called “kids.” I saw a lot of similarities in the energy levels. Ha ha!

More than a few of the boys wanted then and there to be a farmer. This notion was reinforced with a tour of the farm implement row, where the boys loved having their pictures taken on large and small tractors, giant combines and crop sprayers.

My fellow houseparent then took most of the boys to the rides. I took one of the boys to see his favorite part of the fair…the RV’s. He had to go into every single one. He came away from RV row with a long list of them he wanted to buy and live in.

Only one of the boys tried riding the mechanical bull at the fair.
Only one brave soul tried the mechanical bull – he stayed on for almost 10 seconds!

Oh, and I almost forgot about our brave boy who rode on the mechanical bull! He did awesome and stayed on for about ten seconds. All the other boys were jealous, but not enough to try it for themselves. It was a long, fun day and they are already looking forward to next year’s fair.

The boys would like to thank you all for helping them go to activities like this. We pray for all of you regularly!

Season’s greetings from Cyr Home at St Joseph’s! All twelve boys and the houseparents here – myself, Theresa, Laura and Sean – wish you a merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Cyr Home!
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Cyr Home!

Hello from St. Joseph’s Summer Home!

My name is Odis and I’m a houseparent. During the school year, I work with fourth and fifth grade boys. For the summer, I’m working with the Lakota (Sioux) students in

Odis, a houseparent, accompanied students in the summer home on a trip to the Black Hills and Harney Peak.
Louie, Odis and Nick “in the clouds” at the top of Harney Peak!

grades 2-8.

I wanted to let you know about some of the exciting things going on here in the Summer Home!

The students recently had a three-day weekend from summer school (they spend each morning during the week in class), so we used the opportunity to go to South Dakota’s beautiful Black Hills!

All twelve kids and three adults packed up and headed out to a weekend full of camping, hiking and other fun activities. The highlight of the weekend was the six (or seven!) mile hike up to Harney Peak in Custer State Park.

The map said six miles round trip, but our feet told us it was seven miles! Harney Peak is the highest natural point in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.   On the way up, the kids learned about the Pine Beetle that is killing the pine trees and leaving the forest vulnerable to fire.

We also learned about Valentine McGillycuddy, whose ashes are interred at the top of the peak.

McGillycuddy was known to be a friend of Crazy Horse. He was also the physician who attended Crazy Horse shortly before he died of a bayonet wound in Fort Robinson.

St. Joseph’s summer home students and staff spent a fun weekend camping and hiking in South Dakota’s Black Hills.
Ready to make the hike!

All the kids made the hike without complaint and enjoyed being “in the clouds” when we got to the top. Our adventure concluded with a picnic at Sylvan Lake when we got back to the bottom.

The students and houseparents at St. Joseph’s Indian School are grateful for your support! We appreciate your sacrifices for us and good feelings toward us. Our work would not be possible without you.

God bless!

Odis, Houseparent

A summer trip to the Black Hills

Welcome to the lofty heights of St. Joseph’s Summer Home!  I mean this in a literal sense, as over the last weekend we took the Lakota (Sioux) children on a camping trip to South Dakota’s Black Hills!

Thirteen Native American students, two St. Joseph’s houseparents and one intern (Genevieve) camped out for two nights.

We spend the first in the South Dakota Badlands, where we shared a campground with the buffalo and South Dakota’s infamous “gumbo” in the morning after a rainy night.

The second night, we camped at Center Lake in Custer State Park.  Genevieve commented that the campground looked like a postcard or like it was out of a TV commercial.

The highlight of the trip was the hike up Harney Peak, the highest summit in the United States east of the Rocky Mountains.  The kids did an amazing job on the two-hour hike from Horse Thief Lake to the fire tower on the summit of Harney Peak. These summer home kids are some tough kids!

The kids were impressed that you could see Wyoming to the west, the Badlands to the east, Nebraska to the south and Bear Butte to the north all from the fire tower! On the way down, we shared the trail with a mountain goat and some marmots.

The Summer Home is a great time for the Lakota students to get some adventure and travel in that they don’t get in the school year. We are thankful to all you donors who make these important times possible!